FROM READERS: Rodents are more than pests, they're animals

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Angel Becker breeds rodents and shares them with the community.

Now most people think my children are pests, but it’s not what you think. They aren’t wild or out of control. Actually they are all very well-behaved, except one temperamental girl.

Don’t stop reading. My children aren’t people, so I’m not embarrassing or down-talking anyone ... unless hamsters put the torn newspapers back together to read. Wouldn’t that be a sight?

Appa, a hamster, isn’t the most well-behaved. She’s fluffy and soft and very well cared for, but she tries to bite... her old tank mate, (now separated) Momo, is just the opposite.

She’s sweet and soooo soft! But she gives a tiny, spooking nip to your finger when she wants to be put up. It’s sort of cute.

That's not all. My other children, who are always clean yet tear things apart (toys, cardboard, tunnels, beds for rats, etc.), are two unique, adorable gerbils. Both are female in a 32-gallon tall tank with hanging toys, non-destructible water bottle, bowl and house.

Like I said, no one bites but the hamsters, and I have four rats as well. Keep in mind I rescued some and bought others.

I recently had a loss of a rat to an incurable disease called megacolon. Details aside, he was a great kid, a wonderful boy and pet. His name was Argo Templeton. Now, he’s a living memory.

My little micey babies are five adults, two male, three female.

So why are my babies vermin, again?

Everyone gets playtime, everyone gets cleaned, everyone has a personality, everyone is precious and cute. And every one of them means something to me.

I love them all and could tell you stories of each one and how differently they behave. There is a language we all speak but not all understand, not a spoken language or body or hand, this language is not named. It is only understood. You learn it by watching and asking questions to someone who can help you understand or look it up. ...

Also, with me I’ve been around a lot of animals and love all of them, so I feel I have this natural instinct that tells me what to do and if it doesn’t, I call a friend for help.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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Mark Foecking September 21, 2013 | 5:09 a.m.

I worked with rats and mice for 25 years, and they make very good pets. They purr like cats when they're relaxed (and it's not bruxing - this is a soft vibration that has nothing to do with their teeth). Enjoy!!


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 22, 2013 | 4:28 p.m.

Are you guys talking about rats in general or more specifically the subspecies that's white-colored and used in laboratory experimentation? I don't doubt that those rats are docile.

I could show you some large, brown rats in Guyana (formerly British Guiana) and Venezuela that would put the fear of God in any cat or small dog. :)

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